Stephen Spender: I think continually

June 19, 2010

I Think Continually–Stephen Spender

I have not been posting poems on this blog for quite a while. I thought I should do so today to say thanks in a poetic way  to my blogging friends like Frank, Bean, Tean, Menyalak-er, Kakrubi56, Tok Cik, Danieldaud, and Siti Khatijah and Maureen et.el. They are heroes who brighten this blog. As usual, I will dedicate this poem to my dear wife Dr. Kamsiah G. Haider who is always urging me on when things do not look too bright.


A poem from time to time in times of political gloom is good for our aching souls. At least, that is the way I feel. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses is one of my favorite but it was featured before. Now  let me to introduce Stephen Spender to you. I have chosen this particular poem , I think continually ,by Sir Stephen because I like his last stanza.–Din Merican

I Think Continually

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are feted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life

Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun they travelled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Stephen Spender*

Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE (28 February 1909 – 16 July 1995) was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work. He was appointed the seventeenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the United States Library of Congress in 1965.

17 thoughts on “Stephen Spender: I think continually

  1. How gorgeous. right back at you Din and your beautiful wife.,

    You and your obviously beautiful wife are my heroes!!!!!

    Such courage from you both has allowed me to show mine.

  2. Thank you Din.

    “When you read and understand a poem, comprehending it’s rich and formal meanings, then you master chaos a little”

    We all need a little break from the arguing and anger now and then

    Hope you have a good weekend

  3. Ren’e (Renay) Descartes is famous for “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I exist!”

    To that, I would add, le’s always be forward thinking as well as continually, for that’s what primarily distinguishes us from animalia.

    we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

  4. let’s always be forward thinking as well as continually, for that’s what primarily distinguishes us from animalia. – donplaypuks

    You mean animals such as the primates are not forward thinking and continually.

    They do, especially our cousins in the jungle . Perhaps just only 2 % less than human beings. Of course Kathy refuses to acknowledge her relatives because they are 2 % different from her.

  5. On ‘thinking continually’.

    Know that the difference between ‘continually’ and ‘continuously’ is not what separates a kueh from a bengkang.

  6. Haha.. Bean, trust you to come out with that one!
    Anyway for the Fathers (and Mothers listening in) here, and especially to Din, our favorite bloghost:

  7. ohhh frank,I am so glad I am always on your mind… that you wish me to be female ape… Never mind I acknowledge that you are a male ape.

  8. I think this poem is a wonderful one which makes you reflect, and it also teaches you about life and how to live it.

    Basically, the poet defines the characteristics found in men of true greatness. He is referring to anyone who selflessly fights for what he believes in, and is willing to sacrifice for it too. He’s talking about people whose souls are filled with passion and love and belief. Even before they’re born, they already know their sole purpose in life or what they have to do.

    These “truly great” people are different from just great people because they embrace vitality, they have strength of spirit. They don’t follow; they lead. These people… their names will live on, they will be remembered. They have been immortalised in their actions.
    Excellent interpretation of Spender’s poem. I wonder if TDM will qualify for the title of “Great Leader”.–Din Merican

  9. Dr Kam

    How about we be generous today since it is Fathers Day. We anoint Tun M as Great Leader. Tun Abdullah as Dear Leader.
    Sounds like we are in N. Korea. Okay. Visit here tomorrow. Early dinner in preparation for 7.30 match.

    P.S. Where did you take dear hubby to honour him as Papa and Grandpa?


    Dear Sayang bangsa, the two Tuns should be forgotten, especially today for making our children and grandchildren’s future bleak! We just stayed home all day, room service breakfast, lunch and dinner. The only time we went out in the evening was for a hair cut, just a walking distance from our place__ kamsiah

  10. I used to live in a hotel for 12 years, not anymore. Dr. Kam has a domestic service professional who has been been with her for about >15 years. She spends most her time at home and her room. Her staff would bring food to the room especially when her kids have left the nest for more than 2 years ago.

    For a busy professional who values her free time , her staff services can be well worth it. She only has half a day or one free day in a week ,do you really think she wants to spend a major part of it grocery shopping, doing the laundry or any of the other 1001 jobs that are required to keep on top of things? She uses her spare time reading, communicating with friends and associates on the net and facebook, and working on her dental blog.–Din Merican

  11. Mr Merican/Dr Kam

    That’s the life I lead too sans the room service.
    I am savoring my life since my kids too flew the nest.
    The maid does eveything. She calls us when the meal is ready.
    But I think not everyone can be like Dr Kam or I.
    We must have hubbies who are like you who understands a woman too needs space to do her own thing.
    I have seen women who slog for the family until her last breath.
    Dr Kam is indeed lucky to have you who values woman as a companion and best friend.
    Isnt it Wordsworth who said:
    Wat is life if full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare..
    I will like to meet Dr Kam one day. She’s a woman after my own heart.

  12. Hi – an amazing poem – i chose and read this poem at my partners funeral in August – she sadly died of breast cancer. A remarkable person who was passionate in life, selfless and lit up the world with a great big smile.

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